In a moment of craziness, my husband and I decided to drive from Sonoma to Seattle. After all our little guy just adores his grandparents up north. Without pain of getting to a local airport, getting through security and sitting on a plane with a very active boy, driving seemed like a logical option.
After deciding we were going to try it, we started contemplating the time of day to start our journey. Since our Bobby is super active we thought having him sleep during the trip appeared to be ideal. On a very academic level this seemed absolutely workable. We talked ourselves into traveling through the night. After all we could take turns driving while Bobby slept soundly in the car. Ultimately we would arrive in Seattle just around the time that Bobby would wake from his restful slumber. He would greet his grandparents with tons of energy and then enjoy a nice breakfast.
We thought we had figured it out. So we packed up our car and headed out around 5:30 pm. 5.30 was just about two hours before bedtime. In theory, Bobby would enjoy the drive for a bit, eat some dinner and fall asleep for the rest of the trek. During the first hour of our trip, Bobby seemed, like we thought, amused by the drive. We thought our plan was working.
Then, came dinnertime. Dinnertime in a carseat was definitely a challenge. Afterall Bobby wasn’t used to eating a meal in the car, so he thought he could play with his tortellini rather than eat it. Ten minutes into dinnertime, my husband told Bobby to “get your foot out of your food.” Apparently tortellini feels good between the toes. Foreshadowing the rest of our journey, this dinnertime turned playtime was a sign of things to come.
All bets were off. Bedtime neared and Bobby wouldn’t go to sleep. In fact, he started crying. Two hours past bedtime, was wired. Tony and I were pulling our hair out wondering when Bobby would crash. But it was still light out and we were heading north. By about 10pm when we reached Yreka, Bobby finally had fallen asleep. He slept through most of Oregon, but woke up around 2.30 when we hit Portland and was so excited by the fact that mommy and daddy were in the car with him.
So, he talked a mile a minute for two and a half hours, had a snack and then dozed back to sleep around 5. Well, we reached our destination less than an hour later. With a total of five hours of sleep, Bobby was a little off that whole day.
With this, my advice for parents who want to roadtrip with toddlers is to lower your expectations. Expect it to be difficult and plan for that. Tire them out before the trip maybe race them up and down a hill, go swimming, or anything that burns energy. Pack amo – bring lots of distractions, take a trip to the dollarstore and load up on cheap (but sturdy) toys and books. Then, you’ll be prepared. When the trip is easier than you anticipated, take a breath pat yourself on the back and be grateful.